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Egypt legalizes 168 churches bringing the total number to 508 in 2018

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Egypt’s President Abdul Fatah el-Sisi’s government has given a green signal to another 168 churches thus bringing the total number of churches legalized this year to 508. These 168 applications for legalization of churches received a nod from the government this November.

Christians in Egypt

Previously in September and October this year, churches have been legalized yet there are still more than 3,000 churches waiting for approval since last year. Earlier this year, the then Egyptian Premier Sherif Ismail urged for this process to be stepped up. Back in 2016, Egypt’s parliament approved a new law regarding church-building. In accordance with this law, Christians have to meet certain requirements in order to construct a church.

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Under the current law, provincial governors are authorized to approve permits for building or restoration of churches. The decision must follow within four months of application submission. Size of the churches is also restricted to the size of population of Christians in the area.

Prior to 2016, the Christian groups found it difficult to get required necessary documentation for church building.
Remarking about this new episode of regularization, Father Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church told AsiaNews that 168 churches and other Christian places of worship have been approved by a ministerial committee. He said that this “is a positive step” and that the government intends to “put into practice” what is in the “law on irregular places of worship approved a year and a half ago.”

“The approval process touches churches that lacked proper authorization,” he said adding “This is an administrative issue meant to grant a legal status to buildings”.

In the last two months, the ministerial committee reviewed application from churches seeking legalization. Officials from the ministries of Justice, Antiquities and Parliamentary Affairs were present during this session when the committee gave a go-ahead to the churches.